Human Rights Fieldwork - Principles, Strategies and Skills (BIR09)
Human Rights Fieldwork - Principles, Strategies and Skills (BIR09) Location: National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland

Delivery: Sunday 31st May to Saturday 6th June 2009.

Sample testimonials from previous participants.

Next delivery: October 2010, venue to be announced. To join the email list for 2010, kindly email


This Annual Training Programme will:
    • Explore the principles underpinning effective human rights fieldwork; and
    • Enhance the skills of participants needed to carry this out safely before, during or after armed conflict.

The emphasis is on ensuring that human rights fieldwork is relevant, effective, sustainable, participatory and accountable. The programme is designed to raise participants' self-awareness in terms of behaviour, attitudes and values in undertaking international human rights fieldwork.

Core principles include the need for genuine partnership with local human rights defenders - both state and non-state. Participants are facilitated in approaching their own development as an on-going process. As a successful applicant you will be part of a multinational, multicultural group with a range of relevant skills and experience.


Reflecting the multi-disciplinary nature of human rights fieldwork and the training programme, applications are invited from:
    • Human rights specialists who wish to adapt pre-existing knowledge of international human rights framework to the context of human rights fieldwork; and from
    • Experienced field practitioners who wish to reflect on their work and enhance their skills with a human rights based perspective, including military or civilian police/peacekeepers, development and humanitarian aid practitioners etc.
Typically, participants have worked for, or plan to work for, international field missions of the UN, OSCE, the European Union or the African Union or non-governmental sector. In 2007 for example, the programme included participants from developed and developing countries on all continents as well as from confict contexts such as Sierre Leone, Sudan, DR Congo, Iraq and Aceh. Participants profiles ranged from military, government, NGOs and EU officials to UN staff from OCHA, UNHCR, OHCHR and UNDP.
Participants will generally have a relevant degree/training and a minimum of three years relevant experience. However, diverse skills of applicants will be taken into account so as to ensure an optimum mix of disciplines and profiles.The course will be conducted in English and places are limited to thirty.

Participant preparation

The Training Programme is designed so as to maximise mutual learning across the range of participating disciplines. To ensure a common starting point for discussion participants will need to be familiar with the basics of international human rights law and institutions and will, in any event, be provided with core 'refresher' materials as required preparatory reading. In addition, each participant will be allocated specific case study materials for advance preparation.

Programme content and methodology

The Training Programme was designed by Karen Kenny, IHRN Director and will be facilitated by an IHRN team. Karen has extensive experience in human rights field work and war crimes investigation. She has delivered training and policy advice to a range of international organisations, national governments, development agencies, NGOs etc on human rights fieldwork. She is the author of 1996 work commissioned by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, Towards Effective Training for Field Human Rights Work.
The Programme covers fieldwork skills needed at each stage of the human rights monitoring cycle from information gathering to stimulating sustainable progress. This includes interview techniques, situation and gender analysis, developing strategic partnerships with host society and international field partners, human rights based development strategies, reporting skills as well as advocacy, teamwork and mission preparedness. Underpinning the substantive content, the live-in programme is specifically designed to simulate core field challenges, such as intercultural sensitivities, leadership etc.
The Programme uses a variety of pedagogical techniques including presentations by guest specialists, plenary discussions, small group work and role-plays, case studies, videos etc. The Programme is highly participatory with exercises in which participants will apply what they have learned throughout.

The indicative programme will be tailored in light of 2010 confirmed participant profiles.


The 2010 programme venue will be announced shortly. It is a full-time, and live-in, programme.

The 2010 Programme cost, which includes tuition, training materials, accommodation, refreshments and all meals, is 1975 euro. A logistics note will be available shortly to assist with your planning. IHRN Scholarship details  will shortly be available below.

Deadline for Applications

Priority to applicants confirmed before 30 June 2010.

If you require a visa, please allow 8 weeks for that application to be processed by the relevant authorities once IHRN confirms your place.

Download Application Form BB10 shortly

Download Scholarship BB10 details shortly*The IHRN scholarship for BIR10 deadline is 30 June 2010.